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Santosh Trophy should be given importance, says Indian captain Sunil Chhetri

Santosh Trophy should be given importance, says Indian captain Sunil Chhetri

Sounak Mullick

Published: 16 Jan 2018 11:14 PM GMT
Footballer Sunil Chhetri feels that the Coveted Santosh Trophy might have lost its lustre but it still has a lot of relevance to Indian football. The tournament which is played among various States of the country was once the most prestigious football tournament in India, but as the days passed by its existence is becoming vulnerable. Nowadays, the Santosh Trophy is played in the middle of a busy football calendar alongside the I-League and the Indian Super League, so it is evident that the popularity is decreasing day by day. Sunil Chhetri recalls his playing days when the Santosh Trophy was a spectacle and the players who impressed in the meet were selected for the National team. Regarding the matter, he said, "When I was younger, the Santosh Trophy was huge. Before the I-League became the I-League, before there were more top-tier matches for the players, Santosh Trophy was huge. During my time, I was told that national selectors used to watch the Santosh Trophy to select players.' The competition is not bad, even though the top tier players are not playing. But we don't watch the matches and it's such a huge, old tournament of ours. I just hope it gets its due when it comes to being seen. Once the matches are seen and talked about, the whole environment of the tournament improves,' added Chhetri.
Image: MyKhel The players featuring in the Santosh Trophy are generally the raw talent from all corners of India who are knocking on the door of the I-League and the Indian Super League. Young Manveer Singh, who scored the decisive goal for West Bengal in the last edition of the tournament, is now playing for FC Goa in the Indian Super League. He was also called up for the National squad and played two International matches making his debut against Mauritius. The Indian striker feels that the downfall of the tournament is due to the lack of top players featuring in it. "The tournament has lost its sheen because the top players do not play. It's not because they don't want to play, but because there are so many games. For all the players not in the top tier, this tournament is a great opportunity to be seen. Because they don't get enough matches,' said India's top scorer. The system of fielding three U-21 players in the Santosh Trophy in the starting XI is a good initiative taken by the AIFF. Though some of the players will be engaged in the ISL or the I-league, the rest will get a platform to showcase their talent. The Bengaluru FC player feels a single league structure in the top tier will make it easier for the AIFF to schedule tournaments like the Santosh Trophy and the Durand Cup. This is the 72nd edition of the Santosh Trophy and will begin on January 17. The first match will be played between Karnataka and Telangana.
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